96-year-old Federal Judge Suspended Following Spat Over Mental Fitness

(LibertySociety.com) – The issue of the age of public servants has been a hot topic of discussion over the last few years. President Biden, soon to be 81 years old, is the oldest President elected in the history of the United States. California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is 90 years old, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 81. Critics argue that mental fitness rather than age is what should determine whether someone is fit to serve. Former President Trump, 77, repeatedly argues that he knows many people who are in their nineties who are as sharp as they always have been.

There is a lesser-known dispute that has been brewing for several months over whether a 96-year-old judge should retire from the bench after employees have reported a cognitive decline. Pauline Newman, who is the oldest active federal judge and serves on a federal appeals court, was suspended after refusing to undergo medical testing to prove that she is mentally capable of fulfilling her duties. Three judges investigated the issue for several months, but Newman attempted to shut it down. She believed that their actions were unconstitutional, as federal judges can only be removed from the bench if they are impeached and convicted. Her attorneys also believed that the investigation should have been handled by a separate court.

Newman’s suspension will last for one year or until she agrees to undergo a full neurological medical exam. She previously turned over medical records to the other judges to try and satisfy their request, but the suspension order stated that the records were not an “adequate substitute.” According to several anonymous court employees, Newman “is simply losing it mentally,” and described her as paranoid. Newman has also accused the court of putting a bug on her phones but has provided no evidence to prove her claim. Her attorneys maintain that she is capable of continuing to serve on the court. Newman was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

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